Public School Boards seek long term stability for schools - call on teachers to resume contract talks



    TORONTO, Oct. 24 /CNW/ - The Ontario Public School Boards' Association
(OPSBA) strongly urges the elementary and secondary school teacher federations
to return to the Provincial Discussion Table (PDT) to resume work on
provincial agreements and meet the Ministry's November 30th deadline.
    "Without a provincial discussion table agreement we run the risk of
labour disruption and this could have serious implications for the education
of our students and the operation of our schools," said Loralea Carruthers,
Vice President of OPSBA.
    Currently our teachers are still eligible to receive the maximum pay
increase offered by the government, a pay increase they can have if their
unions achieve a PDT agreement.
    The Ministry of Education has said that failure to reach a provincial
agreement will mean that teachers represented by these unions will receive
only a 2% salary increase in each of the next 2 years compared to a 12.55%
salary increase when compounded over 4 years.
    There is a Ministry deadline that must be met if teachers are to get the
benefits of a three per cent salary increase compounded over the next four
years. That deadline is November 30, 2008. By that time, the teacher unions
and their school board association must sign on to Provincial Discussion Table
agreements and the local school board and the teacher bargaining unit must
also have a ratified local collective agreement consistent with the PDT
agreement.
    "The first critical step in meeting the deadline is for teacher
federations to return to the table immediately and continue talks towards a
provincial discussion table agreement," Loralea Carruthers said.
    When provincial agreements are reached, school boards and their local
unions can then move to including the provisions of these agreements into
their local contract and work on completing negotiations. These local talks
would include agreement on items that are unique to local contracts.

    
    A signed PDT agreement brings with it enhancements that go beyond salary
increases. The agreement assures:

    -   Guaranteed salary increase in of 12.55% over the next four years
        (3% per year with a compounding factor) for all school board
        employees.
    -   An increase of 40 minutes per week of planning time for all
        elementary teachers. This is in addition to the existing 200 minutes
        of planning time per week.
    -   Additional teachers in an era of declining enrolment, providing for:
        -   Targeted class size reductions in Grades 4 to 8;
        -   Student Success teachers and Literacy and Numeracy coaches in
            Grades 7 and 8;
        -   Additional arts and specialist teachers; and
        -   Expanded secondary programming.
    -   Additional support workers:
        -   More caretakers and maintenance workers to ensure clean, safe
            school buildings;
        -   More professional student services personnel, such as child and
            youth workers to help students deal with family and social
            issues; and
        -   More school secretaries to reduce growing administrative workload
            pressures.
    -   More funding for student supervision in elementary schools
    -   Improved working hours for the majority of the province's 22,000
        educational assistants.
    

    OPSBA finance officials calculate that the additional funding
enhancements offered by the provincial government will total almost
$700 million annually by the final year of the contract. This figure does not
include the annual $1.8 billion in salary increases by the final year of the
contract.
    This kind of four-year agreement, already adopted by other teacher unions
in the province, will be good news for teachers and for the public school
system. It will ensure that resources and energies are focussed on high
student achievement and on secure and safe learning environments. It will
offer schools the peace, stability and confidence in continued progress that
strengthens public education.





For further information:

For further information: Jeff Sprang, Communications, (416) 340-2540


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